Authors: Jeanne St James
Jeanne St. James
Jeanne St James
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509 Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © 2009, Jeanne St James. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
Mace Walker can’t wait to get home.
Being buried deep undercover for the past two years, on the most complex case of his career, has torn him down physically and mentally. Now the FBI agent has come home to recover after having his leg badly injured from a gunshot wound. Arriving home late one night, his relief is short-lived as he’s faced with a stranger pointing a gun to his head, acting like he is the one who doesn’t belong there!
Colby Parks, a biochemist at the local university, had come to town a year earlier to escape an abusive relationship. She vows never to put herself in that situation again.
Then the perfect opportunity comes along: house-sitting for Mace’s sister while making the house she purchased habitable. But she couldn’t anticipate this big snag: the one wearing the tight Levi’s and worn leather jacket, looking like he had just escaped prison.
Being forced to share a house creates sparks between them in more ways than one. However, things take a turn when their pasts catch up to them, threatening to pull them apart forever.
Relief flooded over Mace Walker as he twisted the key in the lock, gave the front door a shove, and stepped over the threshold. Finally home. About time.
Time to heal.
The foyer was dark, but he didn’t need to hit the light switch. Even being gone for as long as he had been, he still knew the house well enough. He made his way to the stairs and set down his bags. Those two small duffels didn’t hold much evidence of his life for the past couple of years. Just some toiletries and a few basic items of clothing.
As he straightened, the foyer lit up, blinding him for a second. He blinked when a young voice rang out from the top of the steps. “Hold it right there! Put your arms up and back away from the stairs.”
What the fuck?
Mace had expected to see his sister bounding down the stairway of his two-story colonial, excited after not seeing her brother for the past two years. Actually, more like one year, eleven months and fifteen days. Not that he was counting. But instead, he stared up into the deadly eye of a Glock. And from his viewpoint it looked like a model 23, a .40 caliber. A compact but still a decent sized gun in a very small, very uneasy hand.
Instantly, the hairs on the back of his neck rose.
He’d dealt with crime bosses and their flunkies—from drug to porno rings—
and had managed to survive. Now he was going to be killed by some measly punk he surprised while burglarizing his house? The cruel irony made him want to laugh. Instead, he did as he was instructed. With caution, he raised his hands above his head before stepping back toward the middle of the foyer. He avoided standing directly under the light, trying to get a better view of the top of the steps. But he didn’t have much success;
the upstairs hallway and the upper section of the stairway were hidden in shadows.
If he played his cards right, this little
would be under his control in no time at all. He just had to keep the kid calm and make the skinny punk believe he was the one in command. From experience, Mace knew the Glock didn’t have a conventional safety.
All the kid had to do was pull the trigger and pull it again and again until all the rounds in the clip emptied into Mace’s body. And from what he could see in the limited light, the kid’s fingers were twitching from nervousness.
a good sign.
Where had a young punk gotten an expensive handgun like that? It certainly hadn’t been in the house. And if it had been, it would have been locked up in the gun safe.
If only he could see the boy’s face. He needed to see the eyes. Without seeing his eyes, Mace couldn’t even begin to predict what the kid would do.
“Don’t you dare move or I’ll blow your face off!” The kid’s voice raised an octave, making him sound more and more like … a girl.
Tension ran through Mace’s body as the person started down the steps. At first he could see bare toes, a slim calf, then another. His gaze flicked to the gun, before returning to the shapely naked thighs which couldn’t belong to a kid—no way. Especially not a boy. Those smooth legs definitely belonged to a woman—and he couldn’t wait to see the rest of her. So far, the view almost made it worth being held at gunpoint. Almost.
He was disappointed when an oversized T-shirt—
, was that Marmaduke on it?—blocked his view of creamy flesh. His arms were tired, his leg throbbed painfully, and his patience was wearing thin. But he still wasn’t going to move, since he had no idea who this woman descending the stairs was. His curiosity piqued when she stepped down into the light, which highlighted her long, curly red hair and made her wide, green—glaring—eyes sparkle and snap.
A twitch shot through his lower stomach and landed in his groin. Fear or pain didn’t make him suck in his breath. It was her unrestricted breasts bobbing under the cotton shirt with each step she took. Her nipples stood out like two beacons under the worn cotton.
He had to clear his throat twice before he could ask her, “Are you robbing this house, dressed like that?”
If he was lucky, she would perform a body search on him for valuables. A very thorough body search, one involving body parts. He could wish, anyway. It might make this all worthwhile. He tried not to smirk. Irritating a woman with a gun wasn’t smart.
Experience, and he had plenty of it, had taught him that much.
She hesitated halfway down the staircase, still pointing the gun at him. A look of uncertainty crossed her features, before disappearing as quickly as it had come. She narrowed her eyes and glared at him. “Am
robbing this house? The question is: What are
His leg began to throb again, the way it had earlier on his long drive into town. But he preferred the ache to no feeling at all. He was glad to even still have his leg. Hell, he was lucky just to be alive.
“I live here.” She didn’t believe him; he wasn’t surprised. “Can I put my arms down now?” His fists clenched high above his head—fighting the pain and fighting the urge to drop them to rub his thigh.
“No! Don’t move! I’m going to call the cops. Back up.” She jabbed the gun in his direction.
Mace didn’t move, instead he let out a long, very loud, impatient sigh.
“Back up, I said! Or I’ll shoot you.”
“It’s happened before,” he said dryly.
The redhead looked at him in surprise, her feet faltering on the last step. “What?”
“I’ve been shot before. So go ahead. I’ll probably survive again. I’m pretty lucky.”
She squeezed the gun tighter in her hand, if that was even possible. “Well, your luck has run out, buddy.”
“Hmm. Especially if you have hollow points in that clip.” She glanced at the gun; it was a just a quick flick of her eyes, but he caught it. “Did you ever see anyone shot with a Black Talon? It’s pretty nasty. Slugs go in and come out. Hollow-points go in and blow out—usually half your body. Makes quite a mess.”
The arm holding the black, lightweight gun, trembled.
“Did you ever hear of the saying, ‘Don’t pull it, unless you’re going to use it’? If you decide to use it, make sure you use both hands. Be sure you kill me, not maim me.”
Mace did. The woman placed her free hand underneath the gun to support it. At least she was open to suggestions. His talking had unnerved her, and he didn’t need her to squeeze the trigger by accident. Hollow-points or not, all bullets tend to hurt. He frowned at the thought.
“Lie on the floor! Your hands behind your head! Now!”
Christ, the bitch was starting to get annoying now. But at this point she was close enough to kill him, even if she was a bad shot. He’d had enough with the games for tonight. He was tired and just wanted to go to bed in
his own house.
Mace judged the distance. “Can’t.” He just needed her a few steps closer.
She waved the gun at him recklessly, her left foot moving forward. “Do it!”
One more step…
“I can’t kneel easily. I’ve got a bum leg.” The bum leg was true enough, but he exaggerated a bit on the kneeling part. He’d been known to lie when he had a gun directed at him. Sometimes lies came easier than truths. And he’d had a lot of practice.
“From all those times being shot, huh?”
“Down on the ground or I’ll blow your brains all over this foyer.” Her slow words, muttered through gritted teeth, made him think she might be serious. Her right foot moved to keep her balance.
Now was his chance.
Mace lunged. He cracked her extended arm with his fist, causing a cry of pain. As she grabbed her injured wrist, the gun dropped, skittering across the tile floor. He grasped both her flailing arms, pushing her. She fell back against the stairs, air whooshing from her lungs. Her head had missed the edge of the steps by a fraction of an inch. He planted his knees on the outside of her bare thighs, pinning them together.
Mace looked down at the woman trapped beneath him. His weight crushed her into the carpeted steps. And he didn’t care. He was in pain, so why shouldn’t she be?
“Oh, God, please. Don’t—” she whispered, her voice catching. Eyes wide, she sank her teeth into her bottom lip.
Mace scowled. “Don’t what? Hurt you? After you just had a gun pointed at my head, you don’t want me to hurt you?”
The pulse in her delicate neck pounded against her creamy skin—like it wanted to escape.
“If … if you leave now, I won’t call the police. I’ll forget this ever happened.”
. If she got the chance she would run into the kitchen and dial 911.
Mace chuckled at her discomfort, even though he felt a little of his own. Damn, not just a little but a lot. His leg muscle burned like hell. “If you call the police, the only person they are going to be taking away is you.”
She twisted underneath him, making him wince with pain. He gritted his teeth to avoid groaning out loud. That groan would not have been a pleasurable one. No, what a pity. It had been a while since he had been with any beautiful females like the one underneath him. He’d have to make an effort to change that soon. But right now he had a problem to deal with and the problem continued to squirm underneath him. Even though he wasn’t feeling at all charitable right now, he was going to have to let her up. For his own sake.
Mace stood, lifting her with him, careful not to release her wrists. He angled away from her slightly, making sure a knee or foot didn’t connect with any of his vital areas.
He was in enough pain already. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same.” She exhaled loudly, visibly regaining control of herself.
Mace shook his head, tightening his grip on her wrists—a little reminder of the change of power. “No. I’m in charge now. Unless you want me to have you toted out of here with handcuffs on, you’d better answer my fucking questions.”
“I’m not going to tell you, a … a criminal, who I am.”
“I’m not a criminal.”
She eyed him skeptically through the long mane of red hair falling over her face.
“Okay, so what are you doing in this house?”
Mace let another impatient sigh escape. Maybe he should close his eyes and count to ten…
Nah, fuck it.
“I told you, I live here. And stop trying to screw with me. Just answer my questions.”
with you. Go ahead and call the police.” She flattened her lips together and tilted her chin toward the ceiling.
Christ, was she stubborn! He would have to try another tactic to get her to talk. He was trying to be reasonable, but … he didn’t have many options. He really didn’t want the local police involved. Not if he could avoid it anyway. And it wasn’t necessary; if he couldn’t handle one skinny-assed woman by himself, he needed to give up his day job.